tl:dr – if we don’t do things differently, we will probably get the same results (1). We probably, for well understood reasons (see “smugosphere,” emotacycles, abeyance) will not. But keep your eyes open and you’ll have a good view of the pending ecological debacle…
UPDATE: I have added a couple of very salient points, in red (h/t Wolfgang Huber). If you have other big things that are happening, let me know.
Manchester Climate Monthly is going to be a relatively intermittent thing from here on. There’s a backlog of fun Freedom of Information Act requests to put up and publicise, and maybe a few other things. But on the whole, because I am leaving Manchester, and because there isn’t really an “audience” for this stuff, this site will mostly be a legacy thang.
There was a time (2011-2013) when we (and it was we, then) interviewed various groups about the year gone and the year ahead. Seems pointless now,, tbh.
Before we introduce the table of the year ahead (and see John Crace’s predictions) and then conclude with “final [ha, promises promises!] thoughts, should flag that there ARE some groups doing fine stuff in Manchester on climate, among the zombie outfits and the council figleaf outfits – see for example Kindling Trust, Carbon Coop, Wythenshawe Waste Warriors, Steady State Manchester, Stitched Up, and Climate Emergency Manchester. If you’ve time and energy, you could do worse than get involved in one or two of them.
Locally, at the Council level the undermining of Bev Craig (new leader) will continue, with various proxy wars going on. This is about personality and patronage opportunities, not ideology, so the picture for climate activists is confusing and mixed. Officers will be busy ducking and covering. There will be even less than no money. With the “carbon budget” concept in tatters, expect higher levels of bullshit, rather than any assessment of the hole we are in, how we got in it and what would be needed to get out.
At some point there will be a retreat (managed? announced? from the fiction that is the carbon “budget.” The Manchester Climate “Agency” will be the fig-leaf, with the “Partnership” playing some sort of Judas Goat role, or sacrificial lamb. Who knows. Most likely there will be a new promise to replace the old (as per Andy Burnham at the recent Summit”) and a new glossy document with new pictures of blonde moppets and people of colour produced. Perhaps to tie in with a consultation about the (much-delayed ‘Local Plan’). The Council will continue to rubberstamp skyscrapers and “develop” green spaces wherever it can. It seems genuinely affronted by any blade of grass that can’t pay its way.
At the GM level, well, grab your popcorn for the implementation of the Clean Air Zone – there’s a growing backlash against it
As for the “activists”, well, the picture is bleak af. Most of the remaining local groups that aren’t (un)dead will struggle to recruit and even to retain. Expect proclamations of imminent radical action that turns out to be standing in front of a building holding a stupid placard. As the months roll on, those proclamations will get quieter and less frequent. Few people will do the slog-work of trying to change the system (from without or within), and as the months pass, their morale will – everything else being equal – deteriorate, as will their capacity to act. That’s what is called, in the trade, a death spiral. (It’s not necessarily inevitable, but can only be avoided with conscious, strategic, clever action. So, given this city and arena 3, probably inevitable. See ‘abeyance’ below.)
Nationally, the problem for the Tories is a new and “credible” leader. The local elections, so often a referendum on nation affairs, will be the final blow for Johnson (probably), if he isn’t already gone. Expect more rhetoric about ‘levelling up’ and also decarbonisation (‘net zero’), but as the year progresses these will be revealed to be promises without money or policy settings behind them. There won’t be any big recantation, just a gradual death by a thousand cuts. The government might conceivably set up a “net zero delivery unit” but it will be either the plaything of Treasury or attacked by everyone as an invasion of their turf (or both, obviously). Labour will not make climate one of its top five attack points. Why would it – the issue doesn’t really have salience with swing voters it needs.
In the summer (August) BEIS release local authority data which will probably show that in many local authorities co2 emissions went up last year – “HashtagAwkward” as the young people used to say (text)
The UK holds the Presidency of the UNFCCC until COP27 in Egypt, but is unlikely to lift that many fingers to do much, now they’ve ticked the “hold successful COP” off their list. None of the leading candidates to replace Johnson give a flying… pig… about climate, btw.
The UK climate “movement” will struggle to gain traction, having missed its moment to build anything (2019-2021) and the economic crisis worsens (it’s already horrific for millions upon millions). The passage of the extremely authoritarian anti-democracy legislation(s) through parliament will offer the state more powers. It will use some of them all of the time, and most of them some of the time… The frog will keep boiling.
Internationally the Big Things are a) the release of a couple more IPCC 6th Assessment reports (working groups 2 and 3, and then the synthesis report. Expect more proclamations of ‘code incarnadine for humanity.’ At the end of the year the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change lands in Egypt, for another attempt to “keep 1.5 alive. Yeah, right.
Expect “natural” disasters and the deaths of millions of basically blameless poor people (of colour). Expect record breaking temperatures and the next 52 weeks of the Sixth Great Extinction.
|Jan||Scrutiny committees will tokenistically talk about climate change, in a superficial, finger-pointing and one-off prophylaxis kinda way, then studiously ignore it again.||A nationally audible squelch as the damp squib that is the “Levelling Up” white paper hits the regions in the face|
|March||Council budget “process” culminates with Budget council Climate “framework” “2.0” will be pushed through scrutiny, rubber-stamped and largely forgotten/ignored|
|April||“Purdah” kicks in, by Manchester Labour will abuse their access to Council equipment/status, as they did last year, and the officers will look the other way, as they did last year.||Energy price hike will lead to more misery for millions upon millions.|
|May||Local elections – Labour to edge to a 95-1 majority on the council.||Local elections – if (when) Tories do badly, if Johnson is still around, he won’t be for long – Truss, Sunak, Hunt, Gove, Patel?|
|June||Manchester Histories “The History of Climate Change” Thursday 9 June to Sunday 12|
|July||The third anniversary (July 10) of the Climate Emergency declaration will pass un-noticed. Or perhaps the Council will chose this day to blame everyone else for the irretrievable blowing of the city’s 15 million tonne carbon budget.||Sixth Assessment Report Synthesis released? Dunno. Wild guess.|
|Aug||Everything shuts down, politically. Except if Bev Craig has not been dislodged. The fighting will continue if she’s still there.||BEIS release emissions data. Various local authority areas with egg on face.|
|Sept||Council – Selection of candidates for 2023 local elections. Expect intra-Labour blood-shedding (only metaphorical. Probably).||Party conference season (Manchester is spared)|
|Nov||Mid-terms in USA. Republicans to win, steal elections as a warm up for 2024…|
8-17 Nov, COP27 in Egypt
What to watch for.
Abeyance. It will bite you on the ass. The sense that the caravan has moved on, that nothing was learned by anyone, that nothing has changed, that everybody knows the war is over and everybody knows the good guys lost. That’s when the abyss does some its best staring, and if you don’t have friends and prescription sunglasses, watch out.
Ridiculous “radical” responses to abeyance, involving exhortations, guilt-tripping and simulacrum-nostalgia stuff.
Fatigue. Guilt. The usual brew.
What is needed (but probably won’t happen)
A group/groups willing to perform “services to the ‘movement'” in Manchester, competently, consistently, fairly and thoroughly, without being a vanguard, or an enabler. Maintaining a calendar, situational awareness (at a monthly level?) Will CEM do this? Someone else? Who knows.
Compassion for ourselves and each other, as we slouch towards Calvary, waiting to be crucified. We tried (sorta). We failed (defo). We gotta keep trying (obvs), innovating (double-obvs), but the whole dead man trudging thing is a thing…
(1) Of course, we are very likely to get the same result (nasty, very) regardless of what we do – matters may largely be even further out of control than our standard illusions allow for. This, as if it needs repeating, is the human condition. Especially these days.